The Women's Health Initiative in Perspective: The Last Straw for Estrogen Therapy?

Medical Author: Carolyn Crandall, MD.,FACP
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

If we piled up all the medical research that's been done in the last 30 years about estrogen therapy in menopausal women, we could probably fill up a mega-warehouse. The strange thing is that such a small portion of the research was done in a way that was scientifically rigorous and demanding, and not a single reliable study told us the overall benefits that healthy women could expect after using estrogen therapy for several years...until now.

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was the first randomized controlled trial of estrogen/progestin therapy (EPT) designed to determine the long-term balance of benefit versus risk in healthy menopausal women. It was the first randomized trial assessing whether EPT has a benefit on coronary heart disease incidence in healthy women. The results were reported in a series of articles in JAMA in 2002 and 2003.

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